The point of this short thread dealing with my graduate training is to explain why it is that lots – probably most – New Testament scholars do not consider textual critics to be competent in a wide range of fields normally associated with New Testament scholarship. I know that must seem very strange to outsiders, but it’s the case. Textual critics are often thought of as a rather strange group of technicians without broad competency in the areas that other New Testament scholars are interested in – for example, the Jewish environment or the Greco-Roman worlds from which the New Testament emerged, the historical Jesus, the interpretation of and historical problems associated with the Gospels, the life and letters of the apostle Paul, the theology of the different NT writers, and on and on.
The reason for this is that to be competently trained in textual criticism is a long and hard process and it’s very difficult to do that *and* to learn all the other things that most other NT scholars are competent and interested in . I’m trying to show that by sheer dumb luck – my hopes, desires, and intentions had very little to do with it – I was in a slightly different boat. Most of my training had nothing to do with textual criticism.
By the time I had gotten to my dissertation, almost all my graduate work involved exegesis (the interpretation of the New Testament documents) and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the history of the early Christian tradition. My dissertation had nothing to do with exegesis, though it did have a lot to do with aspects of the history of Christianity. But its subject was a highly technical aspect of textual criticism. For years I had been influenced by the writings of Gordon Fee, a superb textual critic, who also happens to be a Pentecostal Christian – very active in the Assemblies of God – and someone who *was* very interested in and widely published in NT exegesis and theology, from an evangelical Christian perspective; that perspective had no bearing on his text-critical work, which shows yet again that many aspects of textual criticism are not related to the broader interests of NT scholars (although some aspects are *directly* related, as I’ll show later). He is also the author of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and Discovering Biblical Equality, among other works.
Some of Fee’s most interesting work had been on the use of Patristic evidence for establishing the text of the NT. So, let me unpack what that means.
Since we don’t have the originals…
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